The Transformative Bug

Burroughs was my introduction to the Beats – a group of writers I came to admire for their creativity, experimentation, and kinkiness – and he helped me see the power in the perverse, providing insights on sexuality that fell far outside the normative culture I was surrounded by in the conservative midwestern towns I spent my first 19 years navigating. Burroughs was among the first foreign voices to inspire and inhabit my thoughts in a way that felt both familiar, challenging, and right.

See my Instagram for a drawing of Burroughs that I made at age 19 while working at the Chicago Tribune. I learned of his death because I handled obituaries, and saw a photo of him sized for the death notices.

2019 marker on paper 12×16 inches



To Russia with love…

In December of 2017, I visited family outside of Chicago, and over the course of several days – an amount of time I’d never spent in their company previously – witnessed some communication dynamics that left me feeling uncomfortable, anxious, and a bit sad. I made a few marker sketches (my own quiet therapy) while hanging out with my family that, looking back, seemed to echo emotional traumas on their horizon. This little sketch is one of those pieces, and it was taken off my hands by Anja Obabkova in Russia, a human I’ve come to know via Instagram. Technology is fucking amazing.

2017 marker on paper 10×14 sold


There’s no rush as long as you’re moving 

This is a portrait of my brother, a “thank you” for all his support via my crowd-sourcing site Patreon. While we are different in many ways, this individual has been incredibly encouraging throughout the last couple years, taking me abroad with him and helping me travel within the U.S. so that I am able to share what I’m making with others. He is a true patron of the arts, a good human, and I’m fortunate to have the big lug in my life.

2018 marker on paper 10×14 sold


Go tell the B’s

Another very important patron, Christine has given tremendous support to my artistic endeavors via Patreon, and much like my brother, in everyday life. She has also helped me travel with my work and has been there when I’ve been in dire straits. She was the first to begin collecting my work after having taken a nearly five-year hiatus from exhibiting. Another human I am grateful to.

2018 marker on paper 10×14 sold


The universal ant

Entirely different from anything I’ve previously done, this little piece was quite frustrating. The image you see here is the third iteration of this idea, and as the deadline approached for the show in which this drawing was included, I was unable to make a fourth. Therefor, I was unable to resolve it. Inspired in part by an idea I previously explored in a drawing made much earlier in the year based on an aerial photograph of Dubai, it was my intention to make an abstraction of a cityscape, something that illustrated my feelings about not only Dubai – which seems both beautiful and repulsive to me in much the same way as Las Vegas does – but also my feelings about how our human mass and conspicuous consumption feels empty in the face of imminent extinction. Explosive. Bright and beautiful, but calamitous.

In working through my frustration with the drawing, I did stumble upon some positivity, namely that I realized this needs to be a much larger piece. The universal ant was made for a show called 12″x12″, so naturally I was limited to making something that size. I look forward to expanding the work, however, scaling it up and pushing myself to better communicate the idea. For now, you’re stuck with this version. Consider it a hint of what’s to come.

2017 marker on paper 12×12 sold


Finnished second

This drawing is part of a new group of portraits I am creating. I’ve been playing with styles, utilizing text (you know I’m quite fond of text), expanding my color palette, and looking for new ways to make two-dimensional faces feel three-dimensionally emotive.

For this particular portrait, I mined the expansive and incredible New York Public Library Digital Archive and found a photo of a Finnish stowaway coming through Ellis Island in the late 1920’s. His face was intriguing, and I’ve now used it as a reference for two different portraits. The text that accompanies this immigrant’s face: “everything is possible but nothing is real,” a lyric from the Living Colour song Type.

These portraits are also serving as the basis for those that will be made for patrons supporting my work through Patreon. Those contributing at a certain level will eventually receive a portrait, which will also be displayed with their name on my Patrons page.

2017 marker on paper 12×12 sold


Finnished first

Finnished first

This was the first of the two portraits.

I was asked via Instagram if I had any sketches that I could sell for a hundred dollars. The woman who made the request, a very kind Australian named Wendy Glamocak, was a fan of the portraits I had shared on Instagram from The Collector drawings, so I wanted to send her something similar in style, but new. The above rendering of the previously mentioned Finnish stowaway is what I came up with. It was spontaneous, fast, and felt excellent, both as a small piece of work to share with an admirer, and as a springboard for a different direction. (A better photo of this will be forthcoming.)

2017 marker on paper 9×12 sold


Gray matter

I first encountered Spalding Gray through his role in the Talking Heads film Stop Making Sense. I found his mannerisms and delivery to be incredibly unique, somewhat physically reminiscent of the early experimental films of William Wegman. I then came across Gray again in his brief but powerful performance in Steven Soderbergh’s  King of the Hill, undoubtedly one of my favorites and one of Soderbergh’s best. Only then did I start to familiarize myself with Gray’s autobiographical monologues, such as Swimming to Cambodia, and the tragedy that would mark the final years of his life, severe depression stemming from a debilitating car crash and eventual suicide.

Gray had deep, sensitive eyes set in an animated face. I always found them to be softly haunting. He was that rare breed of performer capable of expressing so much with just the subtle flexation of his iris. One could feel the light moving in and out of him, the narrowing of his eyelids like shutters on the grand windows of an old hotel filled with stories.

2017 marker on paper 9×12 sold


impact detail


This piece bridges different bodies of my work, combining aspects of drawings from both Notes to Self and What I See When I Only Listen. More importantly for me, perhaps, this piece spans a difficult emotional terrain that, once traversed, allowed me to realize I had done some actual healing. There are far worse things than therapeutic art.

2017 marker on paper 18×24 sold


open ended

An open-ended offer

2011 marker on paper 18×24 sold




2010 marker on paper 16×24 sold




2011 marker on paper 18×24 sold




loves great ocean

Overflowing with possibility

2012 mixed media on paper, 9×14 sold



Loves great ocean came crashing down over me

2012 mixed media on paper 9×14 sold



This is one of the letters I contributed to the You Are Beautiful State Street mural back in 2006. The installation spanned the entire length of Block 37 during much of the construction of what now occupies that block: a shopping mall. …At least it was interesting for a while. I still see the mural, superimposed by memory, whenever I’m walking down that part of State Street. It’s not so much a conscious refutation of shopping malls as it is a more lovely way to remember space.


yab 2

yab long

The “Beaux” photo was taken by _pooper. The panorama was swiped from the You Are Beautiful site.



this is the exact moment

This is the exact moment in which I am meant to be

My grandmother, my yai-yai, rather, makes an appearance here with me as an infant. She could really cook.

There are times when I’m very far away from the feeling of belonging. Depression sinks its teeth into me. The train ride to work is a parade of easily replaceable cogs and each face I look into seems equally sad and lost. I would like to see full glasses, but I’m swindled by the triviality of the day. I would like to live in the holy moment, but I am susceptible to routine and rote procedure.

I think I know better. I want to not need reminders. I want to not be dragged under. But it happens, and sometimes I see and feel it happening right away and I am aware of it and nearly able to stop it and sometimes I can. Other times I just watch, helpless as the joy and elation slides from my skin, through my fingertips and down the drain and I imagine it feels the way it looks to be bitten by a vampire, energy slowly leaving, light fading from the eyes, dark circles growing beneath them, a limpness in the body, a kind of possession. And then you see through eyes tinted by this possession, and everything you look at is colored from that perspective, everything is lacking joy and elation and fuck I just want it back. I just want that moment again in which I am aware that I am meant to be.

I want it completely and uncontrollably and devoutly and right now and in my wanting I’m aware and able to see again with clarity what it is that brings me this joy and then bang just like that the moment returns and I nearly float down the street and instead of scraping my heels along the pavement I can nearly see through the pavement, the individual molecules moving in unison, vibrating quietly to hold me up and push me on and the closer I get to seeing through these eyes all the time the closer I get to fullness. And fullness like that feels like the emptiness of divinity, the welcoming in and home of everything all at once, vision that extends in all directions in all times.

2006 mixed media on paper 15×20 sold


and what a joy

And what a joy that would be

A companion piece to This is the exact moment in which I am meant to be. Much of the text in this drawing was inspired by a Lawrence Weschler piece on poet Breyten Breytenbach. Breytenbach was incarcerated in a South African prison for political dissidents where the inmates knew who was going to be executed before it actually happened, according to a schedule. Many of the prisoners were in the habit of singing at night, and the quality of a persons singing changed as the date of their execution drew near. Breytenbach noted that the inmates could hear this change in the quality of singing, and that he could literally hear the inmates listening to this change, listening to the final song of a human life. The timbre of the voice is augmented, it deepens and gains weight as proximity to death increases, and those whose times are yet to come appreciate even more what they are hearing, knowing they will not hear it again. It is beautiful to me, this kind of communion, even in the final moments of life, in which one can realize the tangibility of brotherhood.

Much of the text in this piece is inspired by this story, about the quality of listening, about silence, about the sound of the end of life. Even the sound of the end of the world, and what type of music those who are left to hear the end of the world will choose to make.

2006 marker on paper 11×19 sold


in the context

In the context of a certain set of beliefs

2010 marker on paper 9×12 sold



Mouse, city, diety

2004 marker on paper 12×16 sold



Climbing early analysis

As a teenager I used to sit in various state parks in West Michigan and draw the twist of branches and the wrinkles of bark. The texture and the endless variety was an early source of inspiration for my pencils and pens, and maybe contributed to a bit of my occasional reclusive nature.

The drawing happened after the aunt of my high school sweetheart did an analysis of my handwriting when I was 17. It was an accurate picture that she painted, pointing out the exact age I was when my parents divorced and which parent I gravitated toward at varying times in my life. Or maybe the aunt/analyst was led by her niece, fed information about me. Who knows. I still have a cassette tape of the analysis somewhere, but I no longer have a tape player.

2004 marker on paper 12×16 sold


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